Cuba accuses US of training dissidents via Internet
Agence-France PresseAgence-France Presse
Cuba accused the United States Friday of helping its opponents access
the Internet as part of a drive to undermine the Havana government.
The accusation, leveled in a foreign ministry statement, comes amid a
simmering dispute over the jailing of American contractor Alan Gross
three years ago for distributing laptops and electronic gear to members
of the island's Jewish community.
It also follows the growing international prominence of Cuban blogger
Yoani Sanchez, whose prize-winning Generation Y blog has often
challenged Cuba's communist regime.
The foreign ministry said diplomats at the US Interests Section were
"promoting, advising, instructing, training, financing and supplying
(government opponents) with diverse media and technology."
"Diplomats from that office are permanently inciting these people ... to
undertake provocative actions ... and act against the Cuban
constitutional order," it said in the statement published in the
official newspaper Granma.
The US Interests Section "has gone to the extreme of undertaking
training tasks, establishing illegal Internet centers in its offices to
provide training and courses to people ... in flagrant violation of the
"We are absolutely guilty of those charges," said State Department
spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.
"The US interests section in Havana does regularly offer free courses in
using the Internet to Cubans who want to sign up. We also have computers
available for Cubans to use."
But she denied that US diplomats were working to subvert the Cuban
government, saying they were "teaching people how to use the Internet,
period, and allowing them access to computers with Internet. That is the
only thing that we are responsible for."
The United States supports "freedom of access to information around the
world," she added, saying that all US missions held similar training
"Obviously, this wouldn't be necessary if the Cuban government didn't
restrict access to the Internet and prevent its own citizens from
getting technology training."
The United States and Cuba broke off diplomatic relations in 1961, but
have maintained interest sections in each other's capitals for the past
three decades to provide consular services and deal with bilateral issues.
Cuba "will use all legal mechanisms within its reach to defend its
sovereignty and to ensure respect for the Cuban people and the laws of
the country," the foreign ministry said.
A handout photo released by Cuban official website www.cubadebate.cu in
October 2012 shows former Cuban President Fidel Castro. Cuba accused the
United States Friday of helping its opponents access the Internet as
part of a drive to undermine the Havana government.